From Arkansas Business:
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., told a Monday meeting of the Little Rock Political Animals Club that she will oppose the Employee Free Choice Act.
“While I may not have been clear about my position in the past, I am stating today that I cannot support Employee Free Choice Act in its current form and I can’t support efforts to bring it to Senate consideration in its current form,” Lincoln said in a statement late Monday afternoon.
“I will consider alternatives that have the support of both business and labor but my pledge today is to focus my full attention on the priorities I have mentioned that affect every working family in Arkansas.”
Hmmmmm….I wonder why Blanche would be against EFCA…….
Well, I’m stumped, kids. Let’s go on.
The measure, better known as the “card check” bill, has been fought by business groups and championed by labor, after intense lobbying by both factions.
The bill would amend the National Labor Relations Act to allow certification of a union if a majority of workers signed cards naming the union as their representative.
Ricky Belk, secretary-treasurer of the Arkansas AFL-CIO, said Lincoln informed the union of her decision early Monday. Lincoln’s decision did not come as a surprise, he said.
“My initial thought and response would be one of disappointment, because is is a right of workers that is needed,” Belk said.
The Employee Free Choice Act would allow power to shift from corporations to workers, a shift that is needed considering the current economy, he said. About 80,000 Arkansans are members of unions, though not all are associated with the AFL-CIO, he said.
The National Federation of Independent Business, an opponent of the bill, commended Lincoln for her decision.
Lincoln has been closely watched for her decision on whether to support the measure. Observers have said her vote on the matter would have a significant impact on the 2010 election.
(Her full statement at link)
From The Hill:
The decision represents a bit of a turnaround for Lincoln, who voted to proceed to a debate on card check in 2007. The statement on Monday indicated she would not support efforts to bring it up for consideration.
“I consider both the labor and the business communities to be my friends. However, now that we need all hands on deck, including business and labor, to get our economy moving again, this issue is dividing us,” Lincoln said in a statement. “While I may not have been clear about my position in the past, I am stating today that I cannot support Employee Free Choice Act in its current form and I can’t support efforts to bring it to Senate consideration in its current form.”
Card check failed to move in 2007 even with Lincoln’s support on a procedural motion, because it could not come close to the 60 votes necessary to move forward under Senate rules. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) was the only Republican to join Democrats in voting to move forward on the bill.
Specter announced his opposition two weeks ago, saying he would vote against cloture if EFCA came to the floor. Though the Democrats have 58 seats in the Senate and could still gain a 59th if Democrat Al Franken wins in Minnesota, the defections of Specter and Lincoln would leave them short of 60.
Like Specter, Lincoln suggested she could consider compromise legislation.
Lincoln is up for reelection in 2010 and her decision not to support EFCA could help her. Arkansas is home to the headquarters of Wal-Mart, a vocal EFCA opponent.
Business trade associations have lobbied against the bill, saying a provision eliminating the ability of management to demand a secret ballot election to form a union is un-American and would hurt the economy. Labor groups argue the current system gives too much power to management to delay or stop union votes. They state the card check bill would help the economy by making it easier for workers to organize and then negotiate for better wages and benefits.
Unions promised to continue to campaign for the bill despite Lincoln’s opposition.
“Senator Lincoln’s decision to stand with Big Business over working families at a time when CEOs make 344 times that of their average employee, and as jobs disappear by the minute, is disappointing at best. Yet we share Majority Leader [Harry] Reid’s belief that our efforts to improve the working conditions and lives of millions of Americans through the Employee Free Choice Act will not be derailed,” said Jon Youngdahl, political director for the Service Employees International Union.
Business advocates said Lincoln’s plans to vote against the bill aid their efforts to stop the legislation.
“This makes opposition to cloture bipartisan. We hope this will encourage others to take a public stand against this increasingly radioactive bill,” said Steven Law, general counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.